It’s quite possible that every last drop of underdog magic that wreaked havoc in Saturday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinals was used up in Bishop McNamara’s and Bishop Ireton’s monumental upsets of St. John’s College High and Bishop O’Connell, respectively. But one thing remains certain: there was no magic summoned at American University’s Bender Arena in Sunday’s semifinals.
Just in case, though, Paul VI made sure to leave little doubt in thumping the Mustangs, jumping out to a 20-2 first quarter lead and cruising to the finish, ultimately winning 67-41 and never allowing McNamara to draw within single digits after the score reached 13-2.
“They’re very good, very good, very good,” McNamara coach Marty Keithline said. “Paul VI is a very good team. All our young guys, it was nerves at the beginning. I start three sophomores, a freshman and a junior, never played in the semifinals, coming off a big win over St. John’s. It would have been nice to have a day to prepare but that’s the deal with conference tournaments.”
It wasn’t exactly the storybook ending to McNamara’s mini-Cinderella run through the WCAC tournament. Keithline called the stunner over St. John’s, who as recently as last week was ranked No. 11 in the country by USA Today, the “best 32 minutes of basketball” his Mustangs had played all year. Nerves, possibly, got the best of his young McNamara team, one in which three sophomores (Jamar Watson, Darian Dixon, and Sam Green), a freshman (Jamir Moultrie), and a junior (Tariq Beasley) start.
It was a big stage against the preseason favorites to win and as Watson said, Paul VI did nothing to minimize it.
“The pressure,” he said. “They have those long athletes and they put the pressure on us.”
Just as the girls did against Our Lady of Good Counsel a little more than three hours earlier, the Paul VI boys came out of the locker rooms torrid, hitting their first four field goals to open up a 9-0 lead just two minutes in (the girls were up 12-3 by that point in their game and made their first seven field goals). From there, it snowballed out of control.
Marcus Derrickson, Josh Reaves, Kevin Dorsey, and Curtis Jones combined to close the first quarter on an 11-0 run. The closest McNamara would draw after that would be 27-16, which Paul VI responded to in kind, stretching the lead back out to 35-16 by the end of the half.
“We got a bad taste in our mouth right now but beating St. John’s will hopefully help our psyche heading into the offseason,” Keithline said.
Added Moultrie: “Hopefully we can do this again next year.”
DeMatha beat Bishop Ireton in the ensuing semifinal, and the Stags are scheduled to meet the Panthers in Tuesday night’s championship game.
Paul VI 67, McNamara 41
Paul VI (24-6, 14-4) 20 15 19 13 — 67
McNamara (15-16, 5-13) 2 14 14 11 — 41
Paul VI: Kevin Dorsey 18, Evan Taylor 12, Marcus Derrickson 11, Curtis Jones 10, Josh Reaves 6, Tyler Scanlon 6, Corey Manigault 2, Chyree Walker 2.
McNamara: Jamar Watson 12, Ernest Jenkins 8, Jamir Moultrie 7, Fareed Hester 3, Justin Jenkins 3, Tariq Beasley 2, Brandon Fields 2, Sam Green 2, Marquise Peel 2.